Category Archives: Table Top Games

Evergreen Magic Card Set

I think Wizards of the Coast should make an Evergreen Magic Card Set. For those of you who do not know the term Evergreen, it essentially means always available. For instance, the basic Monopoly game is an Evergreen game, however the Star Trek Monopoly and the Scooby Doo Monopoly are only available for limited runs and are meant to be collectors items.

The Evergreen Magic Card Set would only have to be a handful of individual cards, say 5 creatures cards for each color and 5 non creature spells per color, for a total of 50 individual cards. The cards can all be common cards, but the stipulation is, I should be able to build a decent deck out of the array of cards available. This should be especially true of mono colored decks, I should be able to get 4 copies of each card in a color, add appropriate land and expect to play a decent game. In fact that is how they should be sold, is as pre-constructed mono color decks, with 4 of each card plus twenty land.

These cards should always be available, should always be tournament legal and should never change. Magic has been out for 20 years now, surely they can come up with a set of cards that will not be broken by the constant stream of new cards, but still allow for some creative deck building opportunities.

Friday Night Magic, No More

Well, I think I am going to give up on Friday Night Magic (FNM). While I did reasonably well tonight, I felt very awkward. When I went to the 2014 Re-release, there were plenty of adults and the last time I went to FNM, there was at least 2 or 3 people in their late 20′s. Tonight, everyone was a teenager and I just felt seriously out of place. I started playing Magic before most of them were born and it was just too weird for words. So I think I am going to call it quits and unless I can find a group of regular players closer to my age, I expect I am done with Magic entirely, which is too bad, because I do like playing.

We wish

Posted for your enjoyment, mostly without comment.


Izzet Blitz

So, I got creamed the last time I played Magic. I plan to go again a couple of times in August and I have been looking for a deck to play that is both reasonably cheap and effective. I noticed last time my biggest problem was speed, so I went looking for something that had a couple of win conditions and at least one of them could be delivered as early as turn 3 or 4 and reliably by turn 5 or 6. What I found was a red and blue deck designed around creatures that do things when instants and sorceries are played. Guttersnipe deal 2 damage to your opponent for each instant or sorcery cast. Nivix Cyclops is a 1/4 defender (can not attack) that whenever a instants and sorceries are played he gets a +3/+0 and can attack. Combo him with Artful Dodge and Armed//Dangerous and he becomes an 11/5 unblockable attacker with double strike on turn 4. There is Faithless Looting, Dream Twist and Thought Scour to dig deeper into your deck. Several of the cards can be recast from the graveyard to help keep the momentum of the deck going.

Creatures 8:

  • 4 Guttersnipe (2R)
  • 4 Nivix Cyclops (1UR)

Spells 32:

  • 3 Armed // Dangerous (1R)
  • 3 Burning Vengeance (2R)
  • 2 Feeling of Dread (1W)
  • 4 Pillar of Flame (R)
  • 4 Artful Dodge (U)
  • 4 Dream Twist (U)
  • 4 Faithless Looting (R)
  • 4 Izzet Charm (UR)
  • 4 Thought Scour (U)

Land 20:

  • 7 Island
  • 5 Mountain
  • 4 Izzet Guildgate
  • 4 Sulfur Falls

I am planning on testing this deck out this weekend in a few test matches with PezWitch to get a feel for how it plays. My instincts are telling me I need more mana. While the deck runs on 3 mana, I think it is better to get to five if necessary, so when the combo goes off there is plenty of mana to cast several spells at once. I am also thinking the Feeling of Dread card is probably too limited, yes it is funny that this deck can not cast it from cards in hand, but can cast it from the graveyard and it is tosser card for Faithless Looting, but really, I think I’d rather draw a card I can cast from my hand. I am also thinking the Burning Vengeance is often a wasted card. To sum it up, I am thinking of dropping Feeling of Dread and Burning Vengeance. This opens up 5 slots, 1 being filled by another Armed // Dangerous. This leaves 4 slots, I want to use at least 2 for more mana and perhaps Harvest Pyre for the last two slots for a final kill card if necessary.

Loosing to the great green weenie

So last night I went 1-2 in matches and 3-5 in games. Not a great night in terms of wining actual games. However, in terms of learning things, it was a great night. The two matches I lost were against green ramp decks, meaning early game mana accelerated big creatures. The third match I won only because my opponent got mana screwed. The fact was, my great idea for a mono blue trauma deck was in reality not a good idea. The deck was too slow and reactive, and could not deal with a massive early game onslaught. Given a chance to develop, it works fine, but unfortunately it needs 6 mana to work properly and in the current meta game that it too late in the game. So now I am going back to the drawing board.

I started out this morning thinking about building an aggro ramp deck myself, but a lack of cards and a general disinterest in playing green shot this idea down. So I started looking through the decks I have and came across a Red/Black deck I built last year and promptly forgot about. The theory behind the deck is simple, 20 creatures all with special abilities making them difficult to block and 16 removal spells to keep my opponents side of the field depopulated. What attracted me to this deck this morning was the mana curve of the deck. All but 4 of the cards in the deck could be cast on 3 or less mana which should make the deck fast and reliable. It however did not have optimal cards in it, the deck looks like I was planning to play it in a Block environment rather than Standard. So I stripped out the meh cards and adding in more efficient cards. For instance, I took out all the artifacts and replaced them with large flying creatures. My preliminary deck looks like this.

Creatures 20:

  • 4 Tormented Soul (B)
  • 4 Stromkirk Noble (R)
  • 4 Vampire Nighthawk (1BB)
  • 4 Kessig Wolf (2R)
  • 2 Thundermaw Hellkite (3RR)
  • 2 Sengir Vampire (3BB)

Spells 16:

  • 4 Shock (R)
  • 4 Searing Spear (1R)
  • 4 Doom Blade (1B)
  • 4 Death Wind (XB)

Land 24:

  • 4 Dragonskull Summit
  • 4 Rakdos Guildgate
  • 8 Mountain
  • 8 Swamp

Things I am thinking about. The sideboard will have to wait until I have had a chance to play this deck. Otherwise, I am considering placing Faithless Looting, Wild Guess or Sign in Blood for card advantage. I am also considering replacing Shock with Brimstone Volley or possibly Thunderbolt, these two cards do more damage, but also cost more mana and/or are limited in some way.


Sideboarding my deck

I built a mono blue mill deck, which I posted last week. I am thinking about taking it to Friday Night Magic at the Rogues Gallery at some point. To be competitive I need a 15 card sideboard, which are cards I can switch into the deck after the first game of a match. Usually sideboard strategy is based on the idea of having cards to optimize against common meta game decks. The hard part of this is being plugged in enough to recognize what decks are common in your meta game and identifying cards that will help you against those decks. Since I play only casually, I have no real clue as to what the meta game looks like, so I am going to try an alternate little used sideboarding strategy. I an going to use my sideboard to completely change how my deck works. This is my deck, which I have dubbed the Trauma Deck.

Creatures 18:

  • 4 Galerider Sliver (U)
  • 4 Seacoast Drake (1U)
  • 4 Warden of Evos Isle (2U)
  • 4 Clone (3U)
  • 2 Jace’s Mindseeker (4UU)

Spells 16:

  • 4 Tome Scour (U)
  • 4 Traumatize (3UU)
  • 4 Cancel (1UU)
  • 4 Negate (1U)

Artifacts 4:

  • 4 Millstone (2)

Planeswalker 2:

  • 2 Jace, Memory Adept (3UU)

Land 20:

  • 20 Island

As you can see, its primary purpose is to run my opponent out of cards before he can run me out of life. It also opens a second front with a flying creature assault, this is designed to give me a Plan B to win the game and force my opponent deal with two simultaneous strategies. My purposed sideboard is.

  • 3 Divination (2U)
  • 3 Trained Condor (2U)
  • 3 Air Servant (4U)
  • 3 Disperse (1U)
  • 3 Spellblast (XU)

My plan is to remove Jace, 1 Mindseeker, Tome Scour, Traumatize and Millstone from the main deck after the first game of the match and replace them with the sideboard cards. What this does is converts the deck from a Mill-Aggro deck to an Aggro-Control deck. The idea being that my opponent will sideboard against the Mill aspect of the deck, not expecting me to remove it from the deck. Then for the third game I can use whichever strategy worked best against this particular opponent.

MTG Millstone Deck

So after last weekends mild success with milling my opponents deck, I decided to have a look at building a Mill deck. Lo and behold, milling cards was a theme for Blue this time out. I laid out this deck as a preliminary Millstone deck. The Mindseeker, Tome Scour, Traumatize, Millstone and Jace all force my opponent to discard cards off the top of their deck.  Cancel and Negate are there to protect Jace and Millstones from being targeted by removal. All the other creatures in the deck do two things for me. First they provide me with a second method of winning the game through basic creature attacks, all the creatures save Jace are flying or have the potential to fly, making them difficult to block. Second they provide me with the ability to defend against creature decks.

Creatures 18:

  • 4 Galerider Sliver (U)
  • 4 Seacoast Drake (1U)
  • 4 Warden of Evos Isle (2U)
  • 4 Clone (3U)
  • 2 Jace’s Mindseeker (4UU)

Spells 16:

  • 4 Tome Scour (U)
  • 4 Traumatize (3UU)
  • 4 Cancel (1UU)
  • 4 Negate (1U)

Artifacts 4:

  • 4 Millstone (2)

Planeswalker 2:

  • 2 Jace, Memory Adept (3UU)

Land 20:

  • 20 Island

I am thinking about adding Windreader Sphinx for some card advantage and perhaps Trading Post for utility. I am also considering going two colors and adding White, for more balanced creature array and some utility spells. Another consideration is more land or non land mana producers. The mana curve on this deck is wonky and I am afraid it will start too slow and stall out allowing my opponent to develop his strategy. However, before altering the deck, I want to see how the baseline plays.

MTG 2014 Core Pre-Release

Today I went to Rogues Gallery in Round Rock were they had a MTG 2014 Core Pre-Release tournament. Players bought 6 booster packs and then were given 30 minutes to construct a deck from the mess of cards provided. Before going, I scanned over the spoiler list so I had a good idea of good cards to look for, concentrating on Green, Red and Black. I always concentrate on those colors in sealed deck play because they tend to be the most destructive and have the best balance of creatures. Sadly, my booster packs ran afoul of my preparations.

I pulled two cards that dictated the two colors I was to play. The First was Jace, Memory Adept and the second was Sengir Vampire. Both of these cards were by far the best cards I had, so Black and Blue it was.

13 Creatures:
1x Jace, Memory Adept (3UU)
1x Merfolk Spy (U)
2x Coral Merfolk (1U)
1x Warden of Evos Isle (2U)
1x Clone (3U)
1x Tenacious Dead (B)
1x Festering Newt (B)
2x Shadowborn Apostle (B)
1x Syphon Sliver (2B)
1x Undead Minotaur (2B)
1x Sengir Vampire (3BB)

10 Spells:
2x Tome Scour (U)
2x Sensory Deprivation (U)
1x Divination (2U)
2x Time Ebb (2U)
2x Vile Rebirth (B)
1x Wring Flesh (B)

17 Land:
9x Island
8x Swamp

So I went 2-1 in the tournament. I lost my first match 0-2. My primary problem during the first game was my deck stalled out mid game. My opponent had a butt ton of creatures out and was fixing to over run me, so I scooped. The second game, I got Jace out, but I forgot to use his milling ability until the next turn, this turned out to be a loosing mistake. Two turns later she was able to get rid of Jace  and I was unable to run her out of cards before I ran out of life.  The next round I got Jace out twice and milled his deck to nothing, at the end I was 1-1 in matches and 2-2 in games. My third opponent was able to defeat me in our first game with an unopposed Serra Angel. In the next two games, Jace hit the table and I milled her deck out. At the end I was 2-1 in matches and 4-3 in games. I got a couple of extra 2014 boosters out of it, over all it was a fun afternoon. Thanks for the great games Ashton, Lance and Diana.


MTG, 2013 Core Set

The current set of Magic the Gathering is going to be replaced in just under a month and I realized I have not messed with the 2013 core set much. Usually with each set I try to put together what I think is a basic iconic deck for each color, with 2013, I had only done black. This deck cost about $30 to put together including shipping. The basic strategy is 20 cheap creatures backed up by Murder/Mutilate to get rid of enemy creatures and Duress/Mind Rot to empty your opponents hand and keep him from implementing his strategy. Sign in Blood is used to accelerate the card advantage built into this deck. The only tricky thing here is the Phylactery Lich depends on the Chronomaton, I am inclined to wait and put them into play at the same time late in the game after you opponent’s hand is empty. Alternately, you can put the Chronomaton into play early, pump him up out of Lighting Bolt range and then play the Phylactery Lich.

4 Chronomaton
4 Knight of Infamy
4 Ravenous Rats
4 Vampire Nighthawk
4 Phylactery Lich
4 Duress
4 Sign in Blood
4 Mind Rot
4 Murder
4 Mutilate
20 Swamp

This deck has a very nice mana curve on it. Only Mutilate costs more than 3 mana to cast, which means most of the cards in this deck can be cast in the all important first 3 turns of the game. This deck is fast and if your opponent does not establish his offense before the mid game, he will likely not get the chance once he starts discarding cards out of his hand and anything he manages to get out can be dealt with.

The Magic Dojo

When I was first introduced to Magic: The Gathering back in 1995, the internet had not yet come into wide use. The only deck sharing there was came from magazines like the Duelist and from looking at and playing against other peoples decks. Because I was in Germany at the time, this made our pool of skilled players and deck builders very small. We figured out land destruction, discard, control and ramp decks pretty much on our own. Out of this environment came the Blue Cheese, a Blue/Red Control deck, which was my first entirely original deck that was successful in our meta game. Some scrapes of information got through, for instance, I had heard about ErnieGeddon and NecroDecks, but none of us had ever actually seen them, so we built our own versions of them. So when the Black Summer came I was dominating play using my own version of the NecoDeck, it was only later I found out my version was not well built and I was not playing it very well either.

I came back to the states in 1997 and got my first dialup internet connection and I found  a website called The Magic Dojo which had all sorts of articles concerning Magic:The Gathering. Tournament reports, strategy columns and most importantly, deck lists. I also played my first real tournaments with a much larger meta game than I had previously been exposed. The first few tournaments I was massacred. The decks I had been using were slow and unfocused, at one point I was beaten by a very stupid Timmy deck built around Prodigal Sorcerer and Zuran Spellcaster. However, using the Dojo and experimenting within my new environment, it did not take me long to get up to speed and start developing decks that could consistently win. Unfortunately by 1998 I started to drift away and by 1999 I stopped playing completely.

Now of course there are dozens of website where one can go for deck lists and  game analysis, but back then, there was only the Dojo and nothing today seems to match that early enthusiasm those players had. To the credit of modern deck designers, back then this was all new and each tournament season brought not only new cards, but new players with different ideas and we figured things out in the chaos of the time. Today, everything seems to be very ordered and the meta game is dictated by Wizards of the Coast because card design is now a science rather than an art and very few cards actually break the game in any meaningful way.

Sigh! I feel old, I wish I was back in Ric’s apartment in Karlsruhe Germany playing our awful decks against each other.

The website is now long defunct, however it has been preserved for modern players to learn from the past.